James Holley et al v. CSAA Affinity Insurance Co. Et al

On June 21, 2024, Connecticut Jury awarded $15,371.16 in damages to the Plaintiff in an underinsured motorist coverage lawsuit.

Case Background

Plaintiffs James Holley and Lauren Phoenix filed the Underinsured motorist coverage lawsuit on March 09, 2021, in the Connecticut State Superior Court of Middletown division (Case number: MMX-CV21-6030652-S). Judge Rupal Shah presided over the case.


James Holley experienced two separate automobile accidents in Connecticut within a short span of time. The first incident occurred on March 18, 2019, while Holley was driving southbound on Route 15 in Fairfield, Connecticut. As Holley stopped his vehicle for traffic approximately 1/10 of a mile north of exit 44, Jeffrey Michael Cedrone, traveling behind Holley, failed to stop and collided with the rear of Holley’s vehicle. At the time of this accident, Holley was insured under an automobile liability insurance policy issued by CSAA Affinity Insurance Company, policy number CTSS-206184473, which included underinsured motorist coverage.

The second accident took place on April 26, 2019, at the intersection of Liberty Street and Newfield Street in Middletown, Connecticut. Holley was a passenger in a vehicle stopped at a stop sign. Michael Humphreys, driving a vehicle behind Holley, suddenly and without warning collided with the rear of the vehicle Holley occupied. The complaint alleges that Humphreys may have been under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs at the time of the collision.


James Holley suffered numerous injuries as a result of the two car accidents. He sustained a concussion and developed post-concussive syndrome, causing symptoms including dizziness, headaches, nausea, vomiting, cognitive issues, memory loss, balance problems, blurred vision, and sensitivity to light. The accidents also aggravated a pre-existing traumatic brain injury. Holley experienced cervical strain with radiculopathy affecting his left upper extremity, causing numbness and pain. He suffered from cervicalgia, headaches, and a wrist sprain with associated numbness, tingling, and hand pain.

The collisions led to flexor carpi radialis tendinitis and exacerbated arthritis in his wrist and thumb base. Holley also endured lumbar pain, contusions to his left thumb, shoulder, and elbow, and left knee pain. The accidents aggravated previously asymptomatic cervical degenerative changes and caused a herniated disc at the C6-7 level. Holley experienced significant physical and mental pain and suffering, and the complaint alleged that he suffered permanent partial disability due to these injuries.


The accidents resulted in substantial damages for James Holley and his wife, Lauren Phoenix. Holley incurred significant financial obligations for various medical treatments, including hospital care, diagnostic studies, x-rays, physical therapy, prescription medications, orthopedic care, and follow-up therapeutic treatments. The complaint alleged that Holley might continue to incur such medical expenses in the future. He also suffered economic damages in the form of lost income from his employment and potential permanent impairment of his earning capacity. Holley’s quality of life was impacted, as he became unable to pursue his usual activities to the same extent as before the accidents, a limitation expected to continue into the future.

Lauren Phoenix suffered damages in the form of loss of consortium, including the deprivation of love, companionship, services, society, and affections of her husband due to his injuries and ongoing limitations. Consequently, the plaintiffs demanded monetary damages exceeding $15,000, plus attorney’s fees, double or treble damages under the recklessness claim, common law punitive damages, and any other appropriate relief. 

Key Arguments and Proceedings

Legal representation

  • Plaintiff(s): James Holley | Lauren Phoenix
    • Counsel for Plaintiff: Betsy A. Ingraham, Esq.


  • Defendant(s):CSAA Affinity Insurance Co.
    • Counsel for Defendants: Joseph J. Andriola | Janis K. Malec
    • Experts for Defendant(s): Roshni Patel, MD 


The plaintiffs filed multiple claims against several parties in their lawsuit. They sued CSAA Affinity Insurance Company for underinsured motorist benefits related to the first accident, alleging that the coverage available from Jeffrey Michael Cedrone’s insurance was inadequate to fully compensate Holley for his injuries and losses. A negligence claim was filed against Michael Humphreys for the second accident, alleging numerous acts of negligence. These acts included operating his vehicle at an unreasonable speed, failure to keep a proper lookout, and inattentive driving.

The complaint included two counts of recklessness against Michael Humphreys. One count sought double or treble damages under Connecticut General Statutes § 14-295 for deliberate and reckless disregard of consequences, including driving under the influence. The other count claimed common law recklessness, seeking punitive damages. The plaintiffs filed separate counts against Loren Lapin and Thomas Humphreys under the Family Car Doctrine. They alleged that one of them owned the vehicle Michael Humphreys was driving and that he operated it with their permission as their agent, making the owner vicariously liable.


CSAA Affinity Insurance Company admitted to issuing an underinsured motorist policy to James Holley. However, they denied or claimed insufficient information about most allegations regarding the accidents, injuries, and damages. They asserted three special defenses. First, they claimed entitlement to a setoff. Second, they sought a reduction for monies paid by the alleged tortfeasor. Third, they cited restrictions on recovery based on policy limitations.

Michael Humphreys, Loren Lapin, and Thomas Humphreys jointly denied most allegations or claimed insufficient knowledge. They specifically refuted claims of negligence, carelessness, and recklessness attributed to Michael Humphreys and denied that his actions caused the plaintiff’s injuries. For the Family Car Doctrine claims, they claimed insufficient knowledge about vehicle ownership and agency relationship.

Expert Testimony

Dr. Roshni Patel, expert witness for CSAA Affinity Insurance Co., was set to testify that James Holley’s claimed injuries were not caused by the March 18, 2019 accident. She would argue that Holley’s cognitive symptoms were due to vascular dementia from his pre-existing diabetes, not the accident. Dr. Patel would attribute Holley’s various physical complaints and permanent partial disability to his pre-existing chronic conditions rather than the accident.

Jury Verdict

The jury awarded damages to Holley totaling $15,371.16 in a underinsured motorist coverage lawsuit. This amount was broken down into specific categories: $13,871.16 for economic damages and $1,500 for non-economic damages. The jury did not award any damages for future economic losses.

Court Documents:



Jury Verdict